Special to Dwight The Wine Doctor
NEW ORLEANS--Hundreds of wine lovers and foodies gathered in the Crescent City to indulge in an annual rite of passage of spring into summer, the New Orleans Wine and Food Experience, now in its 21st Anniversary year. The weekend celebration brought out nearly a hundred of Louisiana's finest chefs and attracted winemakers and wine experts from around the globe.
Besides the annual Royal Street Stroll, arguably the nation's biggest culinary block party, NOWFE featured seminars that saturated both the intellect and the palate with tastings of an incredible rainbow of wines and champagnes from the cellars of Duval Leroy and Bollinger Champagnes and Louis Jadot wines of Burgundy with special guest Thibault Gagey, the son of Pierre-Henry Gagey, The President of Louuis Jadot on hand to personally pour and explain his wines.
Among chef presentations was the Sip and Savor seminar led by Celebrity Chef Susan Spicer of Bayona restaurant in the French Quarter and author and Food and Wine Magazine Top 10 Chef, who shared her observations on the elements of complementary food and wine pairings along with Bayona Sommeliers Shannon Fristoe and Carly Dicasola. Bubbles, Bubbles and More Bubbles, the opening seminar, featured tastings of Duval Leroy Brut Rose and a once-in-a-lifetime offering of Bollinger "La Grand Annee' 2004 and Bollinger "La Grande ANNEE" Rose' 2004, both served from large Magnum and Jeraboam bottles., which enhances the flavor of the wines. Both Champagnes exhibited strong floral notes and ripe berry flavors, with an underlying structure of strong minerality, creating the 'spine' that makes Champagne the most prized of all drinking sensations. Burgundy's Best Kept Secret featured a tasting of Domaine Ferret Pouilly Fuisse and Chateau des Jacques Moulin a Vent and Chateau Des Jacques Morgan. These limited edition wines are on strict allocation and primarily only available in the cellars of serious collectors or in the wine cellars of Five Star restaurants who purchase them under strict allocation. The sold-out seminar participants are among the fortunate few who will have had an opportunity to taste these wines. Tide to Table featured Champagne and Chefs! with Chef Brian Landry of Borgne, Aaron Burgau of Patois and Tenney Flynn of GW Fins as they teamed up with industry insiders to showcase and celebrate Louisiana Seafood. The Chefs would later be among the 75 chefs who would participate in the Grand Tasting at the Morial Convention Center, along with winemakers from around the globe, who were personally on hand to pour more than 1000 wines to hundreds of foodies and oenophiles. Wine makers included Barry Wiss of Trinchero Family Estates in St. Helena, California in Napa Valley, Kris Kato of Mark West Cellars of Soledad, California, Lance Macdonalrd of Selby Winery in Healdsburg, California, also in Napa Valley and Chris Alton of Craggy Range winery who came all the way from Havelock North, New Zealand to personally pour his wines at the Grand Tasting.
Among the 75 chefs serving everything from Crab Beignets to "Asian Cajun" Pork Bellys glazed in soy sauce of Housemade pasta Ya-Ka Mein, was Executive Chef Demietriek Scott, CC of NOLA Foods, a specialty catering and food truck operation from New Orleans, who served up what he called "The Perfect Hamburger." Other chefs of note include Nat Carrier, Sous Chef at Martinique Bistro and Chris Wadsworth, Executive Chef at Martinique Bistro on Magazine Street in New Orleans.
One of the most popular spectator sports in New Orleans isn't watching the NBA Playoffs or French Open Tennis but, you guessed it, watching chefs cool! Bleachers were set up in the Morial Convention Center at the NOWFE Grand Tasting for hundreds of salivating spectators who watched 10 of Louisiana's best chefs compete in the 6th annual Louisian Seafood Cook-Off, presented by the Louisian Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board.
Chef Cody Carroll of Hot Tails Restaurant in New Roads, Louisiana was crowned the King of Louisiana Seafood and won the chance to compete in the 10th annual Great American Seafood Cook-Off August 3rd in New Orleans. Chef Carroll won for his Louisiana Speckled Trout Perdu and Etouffee' of Red Swamp Crawfish, accompanied by sweet corn and blue crab cala, whipped Creole potato salad, house-pickled banana pepper, charred green onion and sassafras with a Tabasco (r) sabayon. The phenomenal spread was put together by Carroll and his wife Samantha, working as a husband and wife team. This is the second year in a row that a husband and wife team has won the cook-off, according to LSPMB Executive Director Ewell Smith.
Coming in 2nd Place was Chef Tommy DiGiovanni of Arnaud's in the French Quarter with his Potato-Encrusted Cobia (whitefish) on Cauliflower Celeraic Puree, Tomato Jus and Pancetta Lardon. Chef Guy Sockrider of Tomas Bistro in New Orleans placed 3rd with his Pecan-Encrusted Gulf Cobia with Crab and Pecan Relish.